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My contention is, all kids have tremendous talents, and we squander them, pretty ruthlessly.
Kids will take a chance. If they don’t know, they’ll have a go. They’re not frightened of being wrong. I don’t mean to say that being wrong is the same thing as being creative.
If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with anything original.
And by the time they get to be adults, most kids have lost that capacity. They have become frightened of being wrong. And we run our companies like this. We stigmatize mistakes.
Picasso once said this, he said that all children are born artists. The problem is to remain an artist as we grow up. I believe this passionately, that we don’t grow into creativity, we grow out of it. Or rather, we get educated out of it.
Our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there’s a reason. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. So the hierarchy is rooted on two ideas.
Number one, that the most useful subjects for work are at the top. So you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds you would never get a job doing that.
The second is academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence, because the universities design the system in their image. If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized.
Whole structure of education is shifting beneath our feet. We need to radically rethink our view of intelligence.
We know three things about intelligence. Diverse, dynamic and distinct.
I believe our only hope for the future is to adopt a new conception of human ecology, one in which we start to reconstitute our conception of the richness of human capacity. Our education system has mined our minds in the way that we strip-mine the earth for a particular commodity. And for the future, it won’t serve us. We have to rethink the fundamental principles on which we’re educating our children.
What TED celebrates is the gift of the human imagination. We have to be careful now that we use this gift wisely, and that we avert some of the scenarios that we’ve talked about. And the only way we’ll do it is by seeing our creative capacities for the richness they are and seeing our children for the hope that they are. And our task is to educate their whole being, so they can face this future. By the way — we may not see this future, but they will. And our job is to help them make something of it.